Sports Law • Risk Management

Fitness Pole Dancing: Appropriate for Children?

I was surprised to read the article: “UK Pole Dancing Class for Young Girls Sparks Outrage”, as it had not occurred to me that pole dancing classes are being offered to children as young as 7 years old. A debate has been sparked as to whether teaching young girls to pole dance objectifies them and places them in some danger or whether it is simply a form of gymnastics using the pole as an apparatus.

Those that argue against this practice are concerned about the girls are being subject to objectification by being exposed to an activity that was traditionally seen as part of the male club culture. Opponents are concerned that the children will be photographed pole dancing and those photographs may be posted online and viewed by sexual predators. There is also a concern as to what message the girls are getting by engaging in this activity at such a young age.

Proponents of using poles as apparatus for gymnastic type exercise for young girls ignore the sexual symbolism and simply look at the practice as another athletic endeavor. They argue that pole dancing has become main stream on television, movies, studios and gyms. In one studio in England, the girls are required to dress modestly and be accompanied by an adult for their pole dancing class.

The risk and liability for offering a pole dancing class to children appears to be far greater than the benefits that might be achieved. The risks include exploitation if a child’s photograph appears on the Internet, as well as the risk of falling from the pole and being injured. Of course, gymnastics apparatus are dangerous. But, they do not have the same social stigma as pole dancing. If your club or gym offers pole dancing, it is a good idea to check with your insurer regarding coverage, particularly if you do not have a minimum age for participants.